Hitting the free agent market for the first time in his career earlier this month, Quandre Diggs had no shortage of interested suitors. But with the Seahawks having his back coming from a serious lower leg injury and assuring him they weren’t headed for a total rebuild, the Pro Bowl safety opted to re-sign rather than bring his talents. elsewhere.
Speaking to reporters from his home in Texas on Wednesday, Diggs said up to 15 teams have contacted his agent during the free agent process. In the end, however, Seattle made a competitive offer of $40 million over three years that allowed him to continue playing for a franchise that has maintained an unwavering faith in him since joining them there. almost three years.
“It’s nice to be back somewhere where I’m comfortable, with people I know, which gives us another opportunity to go back and try to figure this thing out,” said Diggs. “The ultimate goal is always to get to the playoffs, to win a championship. I think for me it was perfect to come back to a situation and a team that took a chance on me, a team that believed in me and a lot of great coaches that I feel comfortable with, a lot of players that I feel good with. I mean, the love from everyone in the building has been incredible, so I’m excited.
Now a beloved fan favorite and a respected veteran presence in the locker room, Diggs made an immediate impact after being stolen from the Lions before the trade deadline for a fifth-round pick in 2019. In just five patrol starts on center field, he intercepted three passes, including a pick six off Rams quarterback Jared Goff. He also forced a fumble and recovered one, playing a key role in creating five turnovers.
Proving his stellar play was no fluke, Diggs has led the Seahawks with five interceptions in each of the past two seasons. He also continued to enjoy great success against NFC West rivals, knocking out former teammate Matthew Stafford twice and entering a pitching lane to pick 49ers starter Jimmy Garoppolo. For good measure, he also added a career-high 94 tackles last season, playing much bigger than his 5-foot-9, 197-pound frame would suggest.
Still, few knew what to expect from Diggs’ market after he fractured his fibula and dislocated his ankle in a season-ending win over the Cardinals in January. Taking into account his family and the relationships he has developed over the past few years with his coaches, teammates and others within the organization, even with other opportunities, nothing has come to a head. as a better option than staying put.
“I just think every time we came back, Seattle was the best place for us,” Diggs explained. “It’s a credit to the culture that Pete [Carroll] and John [Schneider] established himself there, and credit to my teammates, credit to everyone in the building who made me feel at home. You’ve known me for almost three years, I mean, you know how thrilled I was to be a Seahawk.”
Specifically, Diggs acknowledged that his close relationship with Carroll was a key factor in his decision. During his final days with the Lions, he was not on good terms with then-coach Matt Patricia who was not exactly popular in the locker room at the time. In a move that drew heavy criticism from teammates and Detroit fans, the team sent him packing his bags to Seattle.
Coaching players all over the place and turning 180 degrees from the dictatorial Patricia, Carroll provided the perfect change for Diggs, who found joy playing the game again in the Pacific Northwest.
“I always wanted the opportunity to play for a coach like Pete, who allowed me to be myself and enjoy football and the way it was meant to be,” Diggs said. “It’s not always serious. I think that played a big part in everything.”
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As Diggs recovered from surgery and was about to become a free agent, the two men spoke to each other often during the offseason. After the Seahawks made the stunning decision to trade quarterback Russell Wilson and release linebacker Bobby Wagner, Carroll reassured veteran safety that despite the moves, the team planned to stay competitive and not come in. in a long reconstruction.
Having thrived over the past three seasons playing for the highly competitive Carroll and making the playoffs twice, Diggs didn’t need a spectacular sales pitch to convince. Even without Wilson and Wagner on board, given the coach’s track record, he wouldn’t expect the feisty 70-year-old to attack the coming season any other way and believes him when he says the team will play to win every week.
“For me, it’s just, it’s kind of hard to see Pete wanting a full rebuild. It’s just the way he’s wired, the way he’s triggered, he’s all about the competition and winning every day. It’s always been his business,” Diggs remarked. “For me to think he’s not here to win it, it would be crazy for me to believe that. For me, I just trust what I’ve been told and I’m going to do my job to make it happen. Of course it’s not a rebuild and just go out there and make plays and try to help as much as you can.
Away from Carroll, Diggs felt he had some business to attend to playing alongside compatriot Jamal Adams, who missed nine games through injury during their two seasons together in Seattle.
Before Adams suffered a labral tear in week 13 of last year, the pair seemed to be hitting their stride when it came to chemistry. A play in a Week 12 loss to Washington illustrated this perfectly, as Diggs crushed tight end Logan Thomas at the catch point, blasting the ball into the air. Adams quickly ran under the ball for a diving interception, his second in three weeks.
Having known each other since Adams met Diggs on a recruiting visit to Texas many years ago, the two had talked about playing together long before the Seahawks made a blockbuster trade to acquire the Jets’ first in July 2020. Teaming up again with the prospect of playing an entire season in tandem has proven to be another attractive asset to staying in Seattle.
“I think it was very special. I have a lot of teammates that I have a lot of respect for. As I told you before, Jamal and I [Adams], we’ve always talked about teaming up together and we haven’t had the opportunity to do a full season yet and we just hope we can do it this year. I think that was another aspect for me to come back.
Now, with 40 million more reasons to be excited about his return to the Seahawks, Diggs has indicated he is recovering from his surgery on schedule and should be ready well before training camp begins in July. Once healthy, he plans to continue his ball-peddling methods by cutting post and tailoring routes and after finally breaking through with back-to-back Pro Bowls, his next mission will be to earn an elusive All-Pro selection.
With expectations like that, it’s debatable whether Diggs will feel the pressure, especially with Wagner’s exit leaving a huge hole in the middle of the defense and dressing room. But it’s not about letting the money or the departure of other players change who he is. Comfortable in his own cleats playing for Carroll and alongside teammates such as Adams, he is confident the leadership vacuum will be filled by multiple players as Seattle looks to get back in the game.
“I think it’s going to be everybody who has to fill that void and figure it out. I don’t feel any pressure because I’m not going to change who I am. I’m not going to change what I bring to the table. I’m going to just be me. It’s not the pressure anymore. I’ve had the pressure on me since I was young. My brother was the fifth draft pick. He was an All-American. It’s not the pressure to me. It’s football. I just live life, enjoy life. Like I said, I’m going to be me every day.”